In a hard hitting letter to the two pro-LTTE British MPs, who demanded the withdrawal of Defence Attache Brigadier Priyankara Fernando’s diplomatic status, Minister Navin Dissanayake yesterday said Brigadier Fernando enjoys diplomatic immunity for actions performed within the embassy premises and that it was most disturbing and offensive to witness protesters being allowed to carry flags belonging to the LTTE in the UK where the organisation has been banned.
The letter addressed to British MPs Joan Ryan and Siobhain McDonagh by the minister identified himself as the son of late Gamini Dissanayake, a presidential candidate who was assassinated by the LTTE and was the deputy leader of the UNP at the time.
“My father was assassinated by the LTTE, the political wing which both of you surreptitiously support. The LTTE has been banned in your country and has been designated as a terrorist organisation by many countries including yours.
February 4, marks the Independence Day of Sri Lanka and is a day of joy and celebration to all Sri Lankans. The front organisations of the LTTE, which both of you support, gathered a few hundred supporters to protest outside our embassy in the UK on this day. What is most disturbing and offensive to us Sri Lankans was the carrying of the LTTE flag and the abusive and vituperative comments made by the protesters,” he said.
He said Brigadier Fernando was within the premises of the Sri Lankan Mission and his acts cannot be questioned either diplomatically or legally because he enjoys full diplomatic immunity for acts done within the embassy compound.
“This tradition is the accepted practice in diplomatic regulations and the tradition is followed everywhere. As the protesters’ behaviour was offensive to Sri Lanka, Brigadier Fernando who is a vigilant officer of the Sri Lanka Army pointed to the lion emblem in his uniform to countenance the disgust he felt when he saw LTTE flags displayed in front of him,” he said.
Dissanayake said both the MPs have been carrying out a deeply hateful, vindictive and offensive campaign against Sri Lanka.
At a time when brutal terrorism has been eradicated and all communities are building bridges to live as one nation, the MP’s continued support to front organisations of the LTTE is self-serving and pathetic, he pointed out.
“Tell your contacts in these front organisations to contribute to their own brethren in the north and east without continuing to fuel the flames of hatred and ethnic division. Sri Lanka needs a real sense of reconciliation without individuals like you trying your utmost to belittle the real achievements that are taking place on the ground. In any event, we stand with Brigadier Fernando steadfastly and he will continue as our Defence Attache in the UK,” he said.